by Zahid Fayyaz
Originally from the Roddy Doyle book, which was also adapted into a wonderful Neil Jordan film, this is the latest touring
version of the musical, The Commitments. Set in 1980’s Dublin, this is the story of a young band coming together to ‘bring soul’ to Ireland, before it all falls apart. Featuring a great soundtrack of soul songs, this has been around in some form in the UK for the last 10 years, and for good reason.
This newest touring version starts off with a band playing, with the cast singing “Proud Mary” in a style approximating a work night out. The plot then doesn’t hang around. It moves quickly, with the main protagonist Jimmy getting a band together right away. The story is a little old-fashioned unfortunately, and the constant reference to ‘riding’ feels particularly outdated. However, the performances are overall very good, with James Kileen as Jimmy and Ian Macintosh as the unreliable and angry lead singer Deco particularly standing out. The songs are easily the highlight of the show, with a propulsive energy and musicianship bringing the crowd to their feet at several points over the course of the evening. My own personal favourites are their version of “River Deep, Mountain High” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”, but there isn’t much to chose between any of the songs in the score.
The show tours around the UK until July 2023. It’s certainly worth watching whilst it’s in London, or anywhere else in the country. It is certainly a good night out.
The Commitments runs through 14 January, then tours.
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